Barn fire at High Wheathead Farm

Keighley News: The gutted tractor The gutted tractor

A farmer has thanked firefighters after they tackled a massive barn blaze.

Plumes of billowing black smoke could be seen up to two miles away after the fire started at High Wheathead Farm in Exley Head.

At its peak, 20 firefighters from Keighley, Bingley and Haworth surrounded the stone barn with four large water jets.

David Wood, whose son Robert runs the farm, said around 300 bales of hay were destroyed in the fire as well as a hay making machine and a tractor parked at one end of the barn. A trailer and Land Rover parked outside also caught fire and were destroyed.

Mr Wood said he had switched off the tractor engine, but an electrical fault caused it to catch fire just minutes after he left the building.

He said: “I heard what I thought was an alarm going off, but with hindsight it was the tractor horn going off on its own. I had filled it full of diesel ready for hay making as soon as we got some fine days.

“I knew I couldn’t put it out and I rang the fire brigade. They stayed until they were certain there was nothing else that was going to burn. The fire got into the hay, so we took bales out into the field.”

As there was no water hydrant at the farm, water had to be pumped in from Occupation Lane and Steadings Way.

Firefighters battled and succeeded in stopping the fire, which started at around 9.30pm on Monday, spreading to another barn opposite that was full of dry straw.

Mr Wood added: “In the circumstances, the firefighters did their best. All the animals were out in the fields. It would have been a totally different situation two months ago when the buildings were full of stock.”

Keighley watch commander Steven Moorhouse said: “You could see the smoke from some distance, about two miles away. Getting water into farms is always a challenge, but we did it.

“Luckily it was a stone barn, the roof timbers were charred but the asbestos roof was not touched. There was more smoke than flames.

“It could have turned out worse if the flames had got to the other barn, but there was good teamwork and the incident was contained.”

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